Little Sax said:
Buffing a gold-plated sax is sin in my book. Shame on your tech!
I will lament your horn....
Don't feel bad about it. As he said at the time. the plating was far enough gone that it would have needed a "redo" overall as the horn was being brought back to like-new standards.
I have not saved a photo of the original condition of the instrument, but I wish that I had, for the change is amazing. I originally bought the horn for conversion into a lamp, as it was pretty much a wreck when purchased. (I paid all of $25.00 for it.) No intact pads (long ago eaten by mice, apparently), worn down through the finish to the bare metal on the back due to long use (and the brass badly pitted as well), a neck strap ring almost worn through at the top, several rods frozen by corrosion, a frozen Micro-Tuner®, and a couple of odd pieces missing here and there. Pluses were that the horn was virtually undented, the "important" parts were all there or easily replaceable, and that all of the "Mercedes" style key guards were firmly in place (and apparently never had been broken free at any time in the horn's long life span).
What caught my eye at the time was not the potential as a player, but rather the unusual engraving on the bell. The cartouche on the bell contains not a naked woman but rather an odd, three-quarters view of a woman dressed in 1920's garb, with the name "Helen Willson" (note the double "L" in the name, which is not a typo) engraved above.
(Since some pretty intensive internet searching plus inquires in professional music circles turned up zero on the name, the general consensus has been that she was the owner and that the horn was a custom item made for her as a gift. Any alternate information on this would be welcomed, of course.)
From the overall as-purchased condition of the horn plus the unusual engraving, it has been decided that this was one of the upper tier of Conn's creations, but not of the utmost tippy-top. The reasoning for this classification is that the engraving only extends to the majority of the bell, not elsewhere on the horn. So, it may have been pretty expensive at the time and place (perhaps all of three hundred dollars or so), but it could have been worse.
Only after I had played my first Conn horn some ten years later did I decide to first find out if mine was one (it was) and second, to have it rebuilt. During the intervening years, the filthy, gummy-looking thing (and its God forsaken mildewed case) resided in the cellar or attic, triple wrapped in plastic garbage bags the better to keep down the smell.
When it was rebuilt, I had all of the damage made good, a set of close to the original Conn style pads installed, a new (and very substantial) neck strap ring put on, and the corrosion damage at the rear of the horn cleaned up a bit, and then the whole thing silver plated. Gold would have been nicer, as I said, but I was loath to spend that much on what was originally a piece of untested junk.
(I also literally burnt the case. There was no hope for that piece of luggage work, and fixing the mouse-gnawed hole in the one corner would have been impossible in any case. The horn now resides in a Pro-Tech alto case, one well equipped with a matching sock for the neck and plenty of anti-tarnish protection as well.)
It is a nice conversation piece (the horn looks spectacular under stage lighting, and it draws no end of comment from audience members whenever I use it for perhaps three tunes in a typical job). It gets most of its use when I am in a travel status (last year I spent an entire month in New Orleans, and I'm going to have to do the same this year as well) when I take it along to keep my skills up for sax playing in general.